Online Content

Display: All articles / Browse By:

May 17, 2018

Leveraging Social Science Expertise in Immigration Policymaking


The longstanding uncertainty about how policymakers should grapple with social science demonstrating racism persists in the modern administrative state. This Essay examines the uses and misuses of social science and expertise in immigration policymaking. More specifically, it highlights three immigration policies that dismiss social scientific findings and expertise as part of presidential and agency decision-making: border control, crime control, and extreme vetting of refugees to prevent terrorism. The Essay claims that these rejections of expertise undermine both substantive and procedural protections for immigrants and undermine important functions of the administrative state as a curb on irrationality in policymaking. It concludes by suggesting administrative, political, and judicial mechanisms that would encourage policymakers to leverage expertise and curb irrationality in immigration policymaking.


Ming H. Chen, Associate Professor, University of Colorado Law and Political Science; Faculty-Director, CU Immigration Law & Policy Program; Visiting Scholar, University of California at Berkeley Center for the Study of Law & Society; Ph.D., University of California at Berkeley; J.D., NYU Law School.

Copyright 2018 by Ming H. Chen

Cite as: Ming H. Chen, Leveraging Social Science Expertise in Immigration Policymaking, 112 Nw. U. L. Rev. Online 281 (2018),